By Ben Rosario
SAN JOSE DE BUENVISTA, Antique – Congress may exercise its oversight powers in looking into the allegedly loan agreement between China and the Philippines that puts the latter into a grossly disadvantageous position.
Re-electionist Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara aired this opinion as Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned that the deal for China to extend a $62 million loan to the Philippines provides for a default clause that may result in the seizure of oil and gas rich Philippine assets in the West Philippine Sea.
Angara said ceding a Philippine territory for any reason is against the Constitution.
“When it comes to national territory you cannot really cede your rights. Because it is something that both present and future generations can enjoy,” he explained.
However, Angara said he has yet to verify whether or not the default clause provides for the ceding of a Philippine territory in the disputed WPS in case Manila fails to pay the loan.
He admitted that such provision, if true, is “unusual” in foreign loan agreements sought by the Philippines.
“That does not sound familiar to me. I don’t want to say it is new. We don’t even know if it exists,” said Angara at the sidelines of a Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial campaign sortie here.
Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said reports of the existence of what was criticized as an onerous agreement should still be verified.
“We have not had the chance to see the loan agreement,” he said.
The administration lawmaker added: Maybe Congress in its exercise of its oversight powers can take a look at that.”
According to him he does not even know if there is indeed a provision in the loan agreement that Philippines and China has signed.
He said reports that the default clause of the loan should be studied closely.
The senator said the Constitution protects the national territory “because it is something that both present and future generations can enjoy”
“Hindi basta basta na sa-sign away ang mga rights natin ot the national territory,” he added. (Our rights to the national territory should not be easily signed away.”
Carpio, an expert in international law, said China can claim Philippine rights over natural gas in areas disputed by the two countries in the West Philippine Sea.
Speaking before students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, the senior SC justice warned that China can seize oil and gas-rich assets of the Philippines in WPS once Manila defaults in repaying the $62 million that China will grant.